Sunday, 7 April 2019

Croatia Reacts to Slovenian Claim It Is Far from Entering Schengen

ZAGREB, April 7, 2019 - The Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Saturday that the issue of Croatia's membership of the Schengen area was too important not only for the Croatian and European security, but for Slovenian as well, underlining that Croatian and Slovenian police cooperated well at the border.

"You saw the news from Greece, namely what is happening on the so-called Balkan route which is potentially the biggest migrant route in Europe. Croatian and Slovenian police have good cooperation at the border and I am confident that Slovenian citizens appreciate what the Croatian police are doing to protect the EU external borders," Božinović said commenting on the statement by Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec that Croatia is far from Schengen area membership.

Asked if Slovenia can make Croatia's joining the Schengen area conditional on some sort of an agreement concerning the two countries' arbitration issue, Božinović said there two issues were unrelated.

"This is an important security issue for both Croatia and Slovenia. I am talking about the migrant crisis and the EU. All EU member states, notably those still on that route, such as Germany and Austria, highly appreciate what the Croatian police are doing and I am confident that all stakeholders are aware of that."

Slovenian Prime Minister Šarec said on Saturday that Croatia was still far from membership of the Schengen area, without ruling out a possibility for his government to tie Slovenia's support to Croatia's membership to the unresolved border dispute.

More news about Croatia and the Schengen issue can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Croatia Disputes Slovenian Foreign Minister's Border Claims

ZAGREB, March 30, 2019 - The Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said on Saturday that it was surprised by "incorrect and legally unfounded allegations" Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar made in a statement for the media last Wednesday when he said that a few days earlier, a Croatian police boat had entered deep into Slovenia's territorial waters in Savudrija Bay, justifying it by saying that their navigation system had broken down.

Cerar said that Slovenia would send Croatia a strongly-worded diplomatic note because the Croatian police boat illegally crossed the border at sea and entered Slovenian territorial waters.

According to the Slovenian police, the Croatian police boat sailed "2.5 kilometres deep into Slovenian territorial waters" and "1.3 kilometres beyond the middle line in Savudrija Bay and returned to the Croatian side after a warning from the Slovenian police."

Cerar said the Croatian police's justifying their movement by saying that their navigation system had broken down was not acceptable.

The Croatian ministry said on Saturday that it entirely dismissed the allegations, adding that the events of last Sunday were about "routine daily navigation and conduct of police control in Croatia's territorial waters in and outside Savudrija Bay, and about the unlawful navigation of a Slovenian police boat in Croatia's territorial waters."

The ministry confirmed receipt of the diplomatic note, noting that it "makes no mention, much less provides arguments for the said event or the Slovenian Foreign Minister's statement."

"The note is a response to an earlier note by the Croatian side and it repeats general, legally unfounded allegations about reported breaches, to which the Ministry will respond," the Croatian ministry said, adding that there was no reason for raising tension or making untrue statements and recalling that on a number of occasions it had invited the Slovenian side to resume bilateral talks with Croatia on defining the joint state border.

More news about the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

“It's Not Commission's Role to Solve Croatia-Slovenia Border Row”

ZAGREB, February 26, 2019 - Frans Timmermans, the current vice-president of the European Commission and the lead candidate of the Party of European Socialists (PES) for the next EC president, told the Slovenian news agency STA on Tuesday that the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute was a bilateral issue and that the Commission was "crystal clear" in its response to that case.

This Dutch politician and diplomat said in the interview that the Slovenia-Croatia border row was a bilateral issue and that the arbitration award on the matter should be implemented.

The Commission was crystal clear about that and I can't see why someone does not want to understand that, Timmermans was quoted as saying before his official visit to Ljubljana on Thursday.

He went on to say that the parties to the case cannot absolve themselves from the responsibility for the matter and shift it to the Commission.

Last year, the Commission refused to join Slovenia's complaint against Croatia which is accused by Ljubljana of violating European law by refusing to implement the arbitration ruling.

Zagreb refuses to implement the arbitration award, insisting that the arbitration process was compromised by Slovenia.

Timmermans also criticised the current European Parliament president, Antonio Tajani, for his recent controversial statement at a memorial ceremony for Italians killed in the aftermath of the Second World War by Yugoslav partisans.

Tajani's statement about "Italian Istria and Dalmatia" has provoked public outcry in Slovenia and Croatia, after which he sent letters of apology to top officials in Ljubljana and Zagreb. Tajani, an official of the Italian party Forza Italia and a member of the European People's Party group in the European Parliament, insists that his comment was "in no way a territorial claim".

Asked by STA if Tajani's speech was reason enough for his resignation, as demanded by Social Democrats in Slovenia and Croatia, Timmermans said he would not insist on his resignation but criticised Tajani for instrumentalising the past in his speech. History should be left to historians, Timmermans said.

On 23 February, three months ahead of European Parliament elections, European Socialists held a congress in Madrid, at which they confirmed Timmermans as their candidate for president of the European Commission and presented the programme with which they will compete with the Conservatives and the Eurosceptics.

A delegation of Croatia's Social Democratic Party, led by its president Davor Bernardić, attended the Madrid congress.

More news on the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Croatian and Slovenian Presidents Meet in Zagreb

ZAGREB, February 24, 2019 (Hina) - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor met for an informal working lunch in Zagreb on Saturday, her office said in a press release. Pahor stopped in Zagreb en route to Split, where he will take part in the Split Half Marathon on Sunday. The informal meeting between Croatian and Slovenian presidents was part of their regular meetings, which are aimed at nurturing the good relations between Croatia and Slovenia.

The two presidents discussed several matters, including the Brdo Brijuni Process meeting in Albania in May. They were in agreement that, given the current international situation, it is important to maintain good neighbourly relations and the political dialogue at the highest level.

They also discussed the last meeting of the Slovenia-Austria-Croatia trilateral and Pahor's plans for a Three Seas Initiative business forum in Slovenia in June.

More news on the relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Slovenian President to Run Half Marathon in Croatia

“Let the upcoming days of the Split Half Marathon be a demonstration of the victory of spirit, the victory of the will, the victory of communion and ultimately the victory of the sports,” said Mayor of Split Andro Krstulović Opara at the presentation of the 19th Split Half Marathon at the Gripe Sport Centre, which will see the perticipation of Slovenian President Borut Pahor among others, reports on February 23, 2019.

The half marathon will include as many as 2,500 runners, the citizens’ race will draw about 400 participants, while the whole event will be supported by more than 15,000 visitors from Croatia and abroad. Among the politicians who have send their application for the participation in the half marathon is Prefect of Međimurje County Matija Posavec, while the Split Mayor himself will run in a five-kilometre race called the Slobodna Dalmacija Trophy.

The participation of Slovenian President Borut Pahor in the half marathon has also been confirmed. His arrival to Split comes in the period marked by strained relations between the two countries due to the border dispute in the Bay of Piran.

Event organiser Kristijan Sindik added that the Split half marathon event, will be held on Saturday, will include the “Children's Mile” race, attended by elementary and high school students from Split and surrounding areas. He reiterated that next year Split would host, instead of the half marathon, a proper marathon on a 42.2-kilometre-long course.

This year, the START 2019 sports, recreation and fitness fair accompanies the races for the first time, featuring sports, fitness and aerobics equipment.

Split Mayor Andro Krstulović Opara, Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban and head of the Split Tourist Association Alija Vukšić emphasized that the Split half marathon is an extremely important event for the tourist preseason in the town because participants of the race return to their countries with “positive impressions, affirming Split as a desirable tourist destination.”

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

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Friday, 22 February 2019

Slovenia Disappointed with Lack of EU Support in Dispute with Croatia

ZAGREB, February 22, 2019 - The European Union missed an ideal opportunity to emphasise the rule of law principle by siding with Slovenia in its border dispute with Croatia, Slovenian President Borut Pahor said at the end of his two day visit to Brussels on Thursday.

During his visit, Pahor met with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the Council of the EU Donald Tusk.

Speaking to the press after their meeting on Wednesday, Juncker declined to comment on the Slovenian-Croatian border dispute and the Commission's role, saying there was nothing new. He confirmed that they had discussed the arbitration dispute on Pahor's initiative.

Pahor said on Thursday that Juncker had told him that the Commission had an option but not a duty to join the Slovenian lawsuit against Croatia over its failure to implement the arbitration ruling.

Slovenia claims that Croatia's refusal to implement the arbitration ruling is in violation of EU law. Ljubljana expected that the Commission would support its position last year, but that did not happen.

Pahor said it was still possible for the Commission to state its position on the arbitration dispute while the case was before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Asked if he had received any guarantees from the Commission about that possibility, Pahor said that one should be very cautious in expressing one's expectations from the Commission.

More news about Slovenia’s border dispute with Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

New Lake Emerging on Border between Croatia and Slovenia

The preparatory works for the refurbishment of the barrier on the River Sutla have finally started. Once the dam is built, a new lake, the Vonar Lake, will emerge on the border between Croatia and Slovenia, reports on February 20, 2019.

This area already had a lake in the 1980s, but the project ultimately failed because of the lack of sewage treatment facilities. However, this time no such problems are expected. The access to the Vonar Lake will be possible from four municipalities, from Podčetrtek and Rogaška Slatina on the Slovenian side, and from Hum na Sutli and Zagorska Sela on the Croatian side. The lake will expand to a maximum of 100 hectares or one square kilometre, which is one third smaller than the famous Bled Lake in Slovenia, whose surface area is 1.45 square kilometres.

"With the Vonar Lake project, we will be protected from the flooding of the Sutla River, which will enable us to develop additional tourist facilities. Once the lake is filled, Podčetrtek and Rogaška Slatina will be able to record up to a million overnight stays, which will enable a better life for people on both sides of the border," says Mayor of Podčetrtek Peter Misja. In the municipality of Podčetrtek, tourists annually realise about 370,000 overnights, and in Rogaška Slatina about 250,000.

Before the emergence of the new lake, which is expected to occur in 2020 or 2021, a lot of work will have to be done, and renovation of the dam is just the first step. The barrier which is being restored is 40 years old. In the 1980s, the area next to the Sutla river already had a lake, which was considerably larger, covering as much as 190 hectares. But the water was of poor quality, so the stench spread in the area and the lake was emptied in 1988. Now there are sewage treatment devices available, such as the one which already exists in Hum on Sutli.

The renovation of the 12-metre high barrier is being managed by the Slovenian Waters Directorate and the Croatian Waters public company, as part of the European FRISCO 2.1 project, which will reduce the risk of flooding from the Sutla River on both sides of the river. At the Slovenian tender, the Nivo Eko company was selected as the contractor, and Croatia will soon choose its own contractor.

Last week, Nivo Eko started preparatory works. The total value of the barrier renovation is 1.67 million euro, of which 85% is provided by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund, within the European Regional Cooperation INTERREG VA initiative.

Translated from

More news about the cooperation between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Slovenia Files Motion against Croatia Regarding Ljubljanska Banka

ZAGREB, February 16, 2019 - Slovenia has filed an additional motion at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg to its application against Croatia from 2016, seeking damages due to alleged violations of the rights of the defunct Ljubljanska Banka Zagreb (LBZ) in an attempt to recover loans the bank issued during the former Yugoslav era to companies with their headquarters in Croatia.

In the motion, Slovenia requests, among other things, that an oral hearing be held in the case.

Last year the ECHR said that the case would be examined by its Grand Chamber, which means that if the court decides to consider the case, its ruling will be final.

With its application, Slovenia is trying to prove that due to the problem of blocked Yugoslav-era savings of Croatian citizens in LBZ, Croatian governments did not allow court proceedings whereby LBZ wanted to collect its receivables to end in the bank's favour, i.e. that the governments intervened in the judiciary.

A former justice minister in Slovenia, Goran Klemenčič, in 2016 stated that LBZ managed to retrieve only 700,000 euro through Croatian courts in cases LBZ had launched in 25 years since the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, because "Croatian executive authorities directly interfered in the judiciary and prevented enforcement."

At the same time, Croatia's judicial authorities "changed court practice and prevented LBZ from successfully collecting its legitimate receivables" from Croatian companies, he said.

Therefore, Slovenia is requesting the ECHR to rule in its favour for "at least 370 million euro in damages."

More news on the relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Croatian-Slovenian Cross-Border Myth Park Heritage Project Presented

ZAGREB, February 10, 2019 - The area around the abandoned village of Trebišća near Mošćenička Draga in Croatia's Istria County and Rodika village near Kozine in Slovenia is rich with ancient Slavic mythical significance which will be evaluated for their tourism potential through the cross-border Myth Park project, financed with 745,000 euro under the Interreg Slovenia-Croatia programme, a press conference was told.

The project was launched in September 2018 and will continue for 30 months, the main objective being to actively preserve and enhance mythical landscape’s cultural heritage from the perspective of sustainable tourism in Mošćenička Draga and Hrpelje-Kozina municipalities.

An ancient mill dating back to the arrival of the Slavs in the region will be reconstructed and classic signage tables will be replaced by environment-friendly stone indicators.

The park will have a uniform appearance; while visiting one of the two destinations, the visitors will be shown a virtual presentation of the other location to encourage them to visit the other location as well.

The project is part of seven projects valued at 7.5 million euro under the Interreg programme whose partners include, among others, Mošćenička municipality, Rijeka University, Faculty of Tourism Management and Hospitality, and Sežana College.

More news on relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Croatian-Slovenian Carnivora Dinarica Project Launched

ZAGREB, February 4, 2019 - The EU-funded Carnivora Dinarica cross-border cooperation project, which is meant to improve the conservation of large carnivores in the northern Dinaric range, has been presented in Croatia's Risnjak National Park.

The project is aimed at enabling better coexistence between humans and large carnivores, particularly wolves and bears in the Natura 2000 areas of Slovenia and Croatia - Javorniki-Snežnik, Notranjski Trikotnik and Gorski Kotar and northern Lika.

This unique landscape of forests in Central Europe is home to approximately 20 lynxes, 60 wolves and 700 bears and their long-term conservation is vital for the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in this area, it is said at the presentation.

The project, launched in September 2018, is being implemented until the end of February 2021. It is being co-financed from EU funds as part of the V-A Interreg Slovenia-Croatia cooperation programme and is valued at 2.3 million euro.

WWF Adria will support the project at the national and local levels organising various communication activities.

Project Partners include the universities of Ljubljana and Zagreb, local municipal and county authorities, the Risnjak National Park and WWF Adria.

More news on the nature protection in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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